- This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: May 10, 2021
Two recent pandemic stories, one from Texas and the other from Venezuela, illustrate how devastating COVID-19 can be to families and show how a woman loses her entire family to the coronavirus.
In the Texas story, a woman is warning of the toll the disease can take based on her story, in which her parents and four other family members died of the disease. The story from Venezuela is possibly even more chilling: A woman reportedly hid her coronavirus-positive status from her family, and within weeks, she died of the disease along with her husband and three children.
The Texas story comes from El Paso’s ABC 13 where, in mid-November, Bonnie Soria Najera relayed that six of her family members died from COVID-19. The interview for Good Morning America was conducted the day after her uncle became the sixth member of her family to join the now more than 450,000 Americans who have died in the pandemic.
“My mother, my father, my aunt, my cousin, my other aunt, my uncle. They were all being very careful,” she said, recounting the incredible loss she’d experienced over the course of the pandemic. “They did things that they had to do: grocery stores, went to doctor’s appointments, that sort of stuff … the things that were essential things.”
The family’s COVID-19 saga began in May when Najera’s mother contracted the disease and was taken to the hospital, only to deteriorate quickly—she was placed on a ventilator after three days into her stay and eventually died there. While her mother was hospitalized, her father also was diagnosed with the coronavirus and was being placed on a ventilator at a hospital right as her mother died.
Though her father seemed to show improvement after a treatment of remdesivir, he died in June as the family was heading to the funeral home for his wife’s services. Shortly after that, dealing with the grief of both her parents being gone, Najera, who said she had no underlying health conditions, received news of her own positive test.
“It was so painful. I can’t even describe the pain that I was going through,” she said in the article. “I’ve never been through something like that before. Not only emotionally, but physically because I was sick.”
She also told KVIA, “When I left (home), I left because I thought I was going to die.”
Though Najera recovered, she would soon meet with additional tragedy, as her cousin and an aunt, her dad’s sister, died of COVID-19 shortly after. The other aunt and uncle joined them in November.
The Venezuela story comes from the state of Tachira, in the northwest part of the country bordering Colombia. El Nacional, in a Feb. 3 report, discussed five family members who tragically died of COVID-19: Verónica García Fuentes, 36; her husband, José Antonio Gómez, 33; and their three children: Nicol Verónica Gómez García, 17; and 4-year-old Jhoneider Stiven and Jhoneiker Enmanuel Gómez García.
Garcia Fuentes reportedly had symptoms of fever, sneezing, general malaise, and headache the second week of December, and she was tested Dec. 17 at the Integral Diagnostic Center of Táriba. The rapid test came back positive, but she didn’t disclose the diagnosis to her husband until Dec. 27—calling him while he was attending a large family party.
Though Garcia Fuentes’s husband and children initially tested negative, they decided to isolate. Then, in the first week of January, she developed pneumonia, and by the next week, the husband and three children tested positive. The couple died within a day of each other, on Jan. 18 and 19, and then the three children succumbed within eight days of losing their parents.
Dr. Amelia Fressel, a state of Táchira health official discussing the tragedy on a radio show, advised people to seek treatment if they suspect they’re experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19. She said, “You stay at home and when the disease gets complicated, it has advanced a lot. We are observing that people, getting off the ambulance, many die because they already have a very large pulmonary compromise and [at that point] nothing can be done.”
Those two tragic stories, though, are becoming a little less rare. In less than a month at the beginning of 2021, a California woman lost three members of her family to the coronavirus, and in March 2021, a TikTok video went viral after one man exposed seven of his family members. Even a famous Bollywood actress and her family weren’t immune.
In Texas, an entire family of seven got the virus, including their 11-day-old baby. The mother, 33-year-old Victoria Gallardo, eventually died from the virus in March 2021.
Even those who are vaccinated can still get the virus and spread it to the rest of their family.